Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Lowering my Sights

I discovered something quite interesting yesterday. For some while now I’ve been sitting down at the computer with all good intentions to write 2,000 words a day. I open up the thing I’m working on (another Owner book) stare at it for a little while, then wonder if there’s anything interesting on Facebook, or Twitter, or if any of my 5 online scrabble opponents have made a move…

I’ve been sure that the reason behind this is that I’m just not interested. I don’t care about fiction – something reflected in the fact that I haven’t read a book for the best part of a year. In fact I don’t have much interest in quite a few things. Not much on TV engages me – I can’t even get angry at the news. In fact my reaction is sadness interspersed with weak irritation and I tend not to watch.  I’ve had the stuffing knocked out of me, I’m low, depressed, fed up.


The reality is that plenty of stuff still interests me. I might not like the TV news, but that’s due to a combination of the partiality of the BBC (and ITV for that matter) and the tendency for ‘news’ to always be ‘oh look, some more bad shit has happened’ or the always contemptible, ‘this politician says, or has done…’. When I can select the news on the internet that’s fine. I would rather read something about the latest development in graphene tech than ‘David Cameron gets tough on Europe’ or ‘ten body bags back from Timbuktu’ or yet another BBC environmental waffle before photo-shopped condensation towers.  In fact I’m interested in a lot of what I find on the internet and it can keep me engaged for hours – I read a lot here and watch a lot. I am also starting to get back into fiction. I watched Lord of the Rings again and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’m even starting to think I might pick up a book again.

But back to the original point, from which I’ve somewhat strayed. The interesting thing that happened yesterday was that while I sat staring at the screen I decided that something is better than nothing, so I reduced my target. This is something I’ve never had to do before. I would aim to do 500 words a day, I thought. Even a fuck-up like me should be able to manage that? The moment I made that decision I opened up the file labelled ‘Grazen1’. I stared at it for a moment completely baffled then decided I would just go with another POV – an alien one. Less than an hour later I’d done 500 words. By the time I was straying back to Facebook and twitter I’d done over 1,000.

Same target today – I shan’t beat myself up if I do over 500 words.     


Graeme Finch said...

Funny how these little strategies materialise when the mind wishes to be active.

Thee be a survivor.

daniel ware said...

Nice to see you getting slowly re-engaged. Things take time, the fact you can get into Lord of the rings again is a start and other things will follow. Plus there's just life you know? I know I haven't read much this year because things have just got in the way.

By the way the hobbit movie just released is pretty good if you're in the mood, if overlong and very superfluous.

Luci Keenagh said...

It's very, very hard to be you again when you've had the stuffing knocked out of you. I'm so glad you enjoyed watching LOTR again, that seems like a good sign. Maybe you will find new things you enjoy along the way.
I wish you could disappear into one of your worlds like I do, that always makes me feel better ☺️.
I think it's fine to do what you can, when you can, a bit at a time. I mean even Neal fucking ASHER can't be awesome ALL the time 😉.
But I still think you're awesome. Just keep going 😊. X

lubertdas said...

Neal, you were hit by a steamroller. Something that would've taken anyone out at the knees. I'm glad you're taking positive steps to pull yourself back up.

Just remember what Big Audio Dynamite said, "When you reach the bottom line, the only thing to do is climb."

joshua said...

Getting back on track after taking a massive life hit is tough. LotR is always a good springboard for me to get into the flow and routine when I'm knocked off balance. But starting small is good- like post injury or surgery, you don't just jump back into full go, it takes time to rebuild and re-acclimate in getting back to the old standard.

Neil said...

It's getting the initial momentum which is the challenge.

We say to our daughter, do 5 minutes of cello, just practise one thing, just to maintain the routine, and more often than not she will do more.

And yes the internet is the devils tool for distraction :)

Thud said...

Early days, take your time and recoup, you've been through a lot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Neal, I just wanted to wish you well and to give you encouragement going forward. I've always been too introverted to write on any forum before and this is the first time I've felt compelled to do so. Your books have helped me get through a rough year. It doesn't compare to what you have been through. But I just need to say this. Thank you so much for putting joy and fun back into my life through your writing, it is a rare gift to be able to affect people and pick them up when they are down. The paperback of Orbus sat on my bookshelf since it was first published. I knew your reputation was sky high but was saving the book for a rainy day. This year my love for sci-fi was rekindled. I just needed the escape from the real world. Ok then I discovered where Orbus sat in the Polity timeline. So I went out and bought all your books and have been binging on them all year! Just got Hilldiggers to go then I'm counting down the days to dark intelligence. Neal you got me enthusiastic for life again. It's amazing what a Gabbleduck and some wise talking drones can do to lift the spirits! So I'm thinking of you pal.Take those small steps and take care.

Alex Cull said...

Neal, just to send you my best wishes for the rest of Xmas and the New Year.

Immensely cheered, by the way, to learn that another Owner book is in the pipeline.

Also I think that your tactic of reducing (or adjusting) the target is a good one. If it works, it works!

Jezcentral said...

Have a good Christmas, Neal, and the same to everyone else here.

yodinator said...

"A fuck up like me".


I own and have read all your books and believe they're sit with the best fiction I've ever had the good fortune to come across. If only you could churn them out faster!

I'll bet my house there are thousands of people out there with similar opinions as this.

A fuck up, Mr Asher, you are not.

Bjorn Buijing said...

Have to agree with 16b9e774-8bcb-11e4-a4f6-af0e4eefe255. Your books also brought me a lot of joy during better, but also quite worse times. Currently rereading them all which makes public transport a lot more bearable.
It might not help, but I found, during a time of depression where I lost interest in the things I used to like is to pick up something completely unrelated, the love for the former interest then first started as procrastination and later returned with a vengeance.

All the best!

Neal Asher said...

Graeme, it would be nice if the strategies worked long-term. At the moment they're pretty intermittent.

Dan, watched the first two Hobbit movies on DVD and really enjoyed them. Who cares about stuff been superfluous regarding the book if that stuff is enjoyable.

Thanks Luci.

lubertas, yeah, attempting to climb.

joshua, good analogy.

Neil, momentum and routine are both required.

Thanks thud.

16b9e774-8bcb-11e4-a4f6-af0e4eefe255, it's one of the things that does drive me - the knowledge that what I do makes other people happy.

Alex & Jez, thanks - happy new year.

yodinator, perhaps a better description would be that I have been fucked up.

Bjorn, I did - those interests were kayaking and walking.

+K said...

Hey Neal... Great to see you are getting back on top of things. Rough, rough blow indeed, so the fact you are already making upward progress is nothing short of amazing.

If it helps you at all, when thinking back to the LoTR movies, keep this in mind. Across the entire span of the story, I was the very first Orc to die. I missed the whole damned epic! :D